Serviced offices have a reputation for being all about freelancers and the smallest of businesses, but medium-sized enterprises are muscling in on the flexibility and reaping the rewards.
Serviced offices aren’t a new concept, and they’ve proven themselves to be a dynamic place for businesses to work and a trusted provider of services that otherwise might impose large costs on startups and small teams.
But new data, collected by MatchOffice in our annual client survey, shows that serviced offices are increasingly also providing viable and desirable office space for larger clients, too.
In the Client Survey 2016, we asked our clients how many people from their firm were using their serviced office. We were thrilled to see a 160% increase in the proportion of clients from teams of between 7 and 9 employees, and a 54% increase in teams of 10 or more.
Very small companies with fewer than 5 employees still make up around 92% of the serviced office users we surveyed, which suggests that the market remains highly weighted in the direction of firms of that size. But the increase in larger firms nonetheless is likely to have ramifications for the way in which offices operate and the services that they use.
Changing the market for serviced offices
Jakob Dalhoff, CEO of MatchOffice, said, “Recently, it has been more acceptable for larger companies to move into serviced offices. In the past, serviced offices were only for small businesses, now they’re for all businesses. They work, and larger companies have discovered that they too can benefit from the perks of serviced spaces.”
The benefits that serviced offices confer on larger companies can be varied. One important feature of serviced offices is that they offer large meeting rooms for rental by the companies working there – either as part of a rental plan, for no additional cost or on an ad-hoc basis – so that companies can bring in their own clients for meetings.
“Larger companies are more likely to hold a greater number of high-stakes meetings with their clients, so spacious and professional meeting rooms such as those that exist in many serviced office complexes are vital.”
Freelancers and casual workers that work for larger companies are also likely to use their employer’s office space and meeting rooms, which increases demand for those spaces within serviced spaces. Given that larger firms often hire freelancers at short notice or don’t know very far in advance how much space they will need, serviced offices give the sort of flexibility that the market needs.
Networking and spreading the word
Since serviced offices are built on the principle of coworking and networking in the workplace, the addition of larger companies to serviced offices gives smaller clients that are looking to expand access to the sort of information that they might need to grow.
In fact, our data from the 2016 client survey suggests that the popularity of shared facilities such as canteens, lounges and shared kitchenettes has risen, providing serviced office clients with even more opportunities to meet their neighbours. This years survey revealed that 20% of customers would cite networking opportunities as a main reason to choose a serviced office over a traditional one.
This year, Mercedes in Puttgard rented space in the Design Offices in Hamburg for their marketing department’s meeting, which allowed them to physically and conceptually step beyond the space they normally would have used.
Other firms that need large meeting space relatively infrequently – say, on a monthly basis – may find it cheaper and easier to rent serviced office space rather than negotiate with their traditional office provider for greater space.
A change of scenery
We also found that larger companies that use traditional office space might be more likely to hire a meeting room in a serviced office as a way of getting out of their regular environment and stimulating productivity. Giving serviced offices exposure to this sort of firm is bound to increase their popularity as they become more well-known, and that is reflected in the 2016 statistics.
Many serviced offices use a professional reception to give their workspace the feeling of a hotel as they step inside, which can be a good way to impress clients and create a productive mindset for teams of workers.
Plush receptions, lounges and canteens which are staffed and produce high-quality food can give a company renting office space an up-market feel. One of the key findings from the November 2016 Coworking Conference in Brussels was that lounges provide a special experience that goes beyond the feeling of just another day at the office.
Big customers, happy customers
Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are at the coal face of the European economy, with an unprecedented level of investment from finds such as the European Investment Bank and European Investment Fund taking place in 2016. Figures released to coincide with the Davos World Economic Forum showed that over €33bn was invested in the EU in 2016.
Serviced offices are one place that SMEs will go in the future, as they look for flexible spaces that can incorporate the high levels of growth and investment that characterises the market.
These changes to the market of serviced offices happens against a backdrop of increasing consumer satisfaction, says Jakob Dalhoff. The 2016 survey shows that over 60% of clients are satisfied to a high or very high degree with their serviced office experience.
“As larger companies spread the word that serviced offices are a viable and flexible way to work, we expect the statistics next year to show more gains”, he says.